Sunday, July 13, 2014

Italian GT: Second 2014 victory propels Marco Mapelli, Thomas Schoeffler atop points standings of Italian Gran Turismo

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

  • Strong comeback race helps GT3 Audis to snap Mugello losing streak
  • Capello, Zonzini close in on Top3 spot until late-race one mishap
Scarperia e S. Piero (FI) – Coming off the team's worst result of the 2014 season, Audi Sport Italia visited Mugello with bolstered confidence and did not miss the mark on Saturday for Italian Gran Turismo round five.

Starting from row two Marco Mapelli and Thomas Schoeffler bid their time until the second half of the race, then went on to successfully attack the Ferrari dominance at their home track. Team mates Dindo Capello and Emanuele Zonzini also looked set to reap a good haul of points, but with five minutes to go--as the San Marino-based young gun was lying in P4--he went off at Correntaio corner, thereafter blaming a braking problem for the mishap.

At the start of the race Schoeffler and Capello kept in check the Autorlando Porsche whose drivers were runner up in the points standings after Monza: Carboni-Beretta, fighting with them for fifth position. The Stuttgart-built car, however, went by the German driver on lap nine; Schoeffler then also gave way to team mate Capello.

The Singen-based driver was the first of the Audi guys to pit for the mandatory driver change, one lap ahead of Capello, and as it turned out the move helped Mapelli to resume the track just ahead of Zonzini. Mapelli then zeroed in on the Ferrari trio that had occupied the podium after trouble hit the pole-sitting Lamborghini Gallardo. The best 458 Italia, in the hands of the Magli-Ferrara pair, was nearly ten seconds away at this stage. Mapelli did not blink when he had to move past Necchi-Frassineti's 458 Italia for P3, then made up the gap from duelling Ferrari drivers Magli and Casè.

The Audi Sport Italia driver was well aware that both the rivals had been handed a penalty of over 3-second for resuming the race jumping the mandatory 45-second time. Mapelli and Schoeffler were therefore able to post their second season win, although they could not take the flag in first place as it was waved in front of Casè instead. Mapelli and Schoeffler's achievement also snapped a 3-year losing streak for the GT3 Audis at the Tuscan venue.

The Porsche line-up that had starred in Monza wasn't nowhere near the podium, therefore after five rounds the Audi duo climbed back into the lead of the Italian series, nine points ahead of former leaders Gagliardini-Donativi and tomorrow, as they will start from pole courtesy of Mapelli, they aim to increase their lead in spite of the 15-second time handicap that a win yields.

However, the desire to win Sunday race will be even more burning for Capello and especially Zonzini: the young San Marino has recovered very well in his stint on the head of Ferrari. In the end he was the man Audi fastest on the track: has been enhanced three times (1'50 .459, 1'50 .358 and 1'50 .356), but the pace has not honored because it went off at turn Correntaio, indicating that the brakes then forced him to pump the brakes for some time the trigger.

Photo credit: Italian GT Championship